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Skatesonic Palo Alto

Skatesonic is a human/computer-skate/music interactive system. Movement data from a skateboard - speed, tilt, distance off ground, sound from a microphone built into the board registers different tricks and send them to a computer via blue-tooth which plays back skateboard generated music.

The music varies depending on the surface that the skateboard is rolling over and the different way people ride. The skateboards can be hooked up in unison, so a group of skateboarders can each play their own "instrument." Skatesonic was created during a ZERO ONE/IDEO artist-in-residence programme, San Jose, California. Collaboration with IDEO, Palo Alto. It was also performed at P.Arty in Seoul, Korea, 2007.

Neal Stevenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash was a big inspiration for Skatesonic. Especially the character Y.T., the young skateboard courier who whizzes around on her skateboard with smart wheels, made me consider the translation of skateboard riding into code and from code into music.

Snow Crash was in turn influenced by Julian Jaynes' book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. It assumes "a state in which cognitive functions were once divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind" (Wikipedia). The relation between language and consciousness is deeply explored.

Where does music fit (as abstract language) in this speculative spectrum of consciousness?

"Jaynes theorized that a shift from bicameralism marked the beginning of introspection and consciousness as we know it today. Leftovers of the bicameral mind today, according to Jaynes, include religion, hypnosis, possession, schizophrenia [...] and auditory hallucinations: A number of more recent studies provide additional evidence to right hemisphere involvement in auditory hallucinations. Recent neuroimaging studies provide new evidence for Jaynes's neurological model (e.g., auditory hallucinations arising in the right temporal-parietal lobe and being transmitted to the left temporal-parietal lobe)" (Wikipedia).

The plot of Snow Crash involves an attempt to return humans to their bicameral, pre-conscious state. It happens in the context of a virtual reality space called the Metaverse that appears as an urban environment. I imagined how the music/soundtrack of Skatesonic becomes an abstract parallel reality. How a skater's movements and contact with the surfaces of urban environment can be interpreted as pure sound.

Makezine Featured it:

Also as human-computer interface: could we somewhere in the future be whizzing through virtual landscapes, controlling our computer programs with skateboards, rather than fingers on a keyboard or hand on a mouse? Or skaters improve there skills with the aid of sonic responses?

Capturing Movement Data:

Board Components:

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